One of my favorite stories ever is “The Miser and His Gold.”
The miser’s a rich dude who sells everything he has for a brick of gold, which he buries in a deep hole in his yard. He doesn’t use it for anything; he just goes to look at it every day.
One day, a thief sees him with his gold and later steals it. When the miser sees the empty hole and cries over his lost riches, his neighbor says to him,“Come again and look at the empty hole, it will do you just as much good as the gold that used to be there.”
What’s the moral of this story?
My interpretation is this: If you don’t use what you have—the gifts you’ve been given—you may as well not have them at all.
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You ever do that? Sit on something because it’s not perfect or seems too ordinary? Or maybe you’re scared to use it?
Whenever I notice I’m coasting or feeling reluctant to share a story because it’s not perfect or hiding in any way, I love to come back to the miser story. It gives me that boost I need to remember, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s selfish not to use what I have and what I know.”
I’d say it’s my favorite story, but it’s hard to pick one. It’s from Aesop’s Fables, a book of tiny, truthful stories I love so much and use Every. Single. Day.
Where might you be acting like a miser without even knowing it?
Are you holding back at work?
Could you be mentoring someone new? Adding your valuable voice and experience to a project? Is there a side hustle within that you’ve been too afraid to launch? Where and how are you wasting your smarts and good ideas? Don’t worry—they don’t run out! They’ll get stronger and smarter with sharing and action.
Are you a hoarder?
And no, your closets don’t need to be overflowing for this to apply to you. Are you hoarding compliments, your time, your generosity, your love? Where can you be more giving—and forgiving—in the world? Could a friend going through a tough time use your sage advice? Maybe a relative who wronged you finally deserves some of your compassion? A friend of mine just lost his job, and a fellow co-worker of his bought him lunch and spent an hour brainstorming his next move. It was the perfect offering. Your presence is a gift. Don’t waste it!
Are you failing to turn dreams into plans?
Are you holding onto fear instead of seeking what’s calling to you? Maybe you have a dream to move away and work in a completely different field, but that paycheck and decent-value rental lease are too comfortable. Are you putting your aspirations in a hole? It may not feel like miser behavior, but it is. Because the most inspired version of you will impact the corner of the world that you touch a thousand times more than a mediocre, settling-for-less iteration of yourself.
Where might you be holding on to your gold? And where can you start putting it to use, starting this week? A thief might not be able to steal what’s within you, but time will. If your gifts are sitting unused, they may as well not exist. They’ll erode, and each time you pass up an opportunity to use them, you weaken your wealth. And as for holding back? I’d love to hear a single good reason as to why you should.
Use what you were given—you owe it to yourself and those around you.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!